As our 16 year-old students were taking their exams in June, Michael Gove was making speeches saying that those very exams were not fit for purpose - an astonishingly undermining and irresponsible thing for the Education Secretary to do.
His belief is that the steady increase in GCSE results across the last 20 years is a sign that the exams are getting easier. Perhaps he also thinks that the increasing number of athletes running a mile in less than four minutes is a sign that the mile is getting shorter?
Over the last 20 years teachers have worked increasingly hard and become increasingly skilful at preparing students for the GCSE exams - especially in English where there has been such a focus.
Any parent will tell you that students have worked increasingly hard to get them. This hard work should not be traduced by government.
But this summer tens of thousands of youngsters got a grade D in English when last year they would have got a grade C.
Away from the messy detail the fundamental reason why this has happened is because Ofqual, whose responsibility is "maintaining standards," has decided that it will carry out this duty by "stabilising the results."
In other words - no matter how hard students work the global number of children allowed to get a grade C or above will not increase. This is a return to the rationing of education that was so prevalent during the era of the 11-plus when only a fixed number each year were allowed to go to grammar schools no matter how hard pupils work.
The consequence in one typical London FE college - which specialises in giving students a second chance at GCSEs - was that the pass rate fell from 81 to 36 per cent. The same teachers and a similar pupil intake but a catastrophic decline.
This will be largely the same cohort of working class students who are so badly affected by the abolition of the education maintenance allowance and the trebling of tuition fees.
This really is the biggest attack on working-class ambition for a generation.
Gove is forever incorrectly attacking teachers for a lack of ambition for our students but here is Ofqual - an arm of the government - putting a defined limit on achievement.
That's why the NUT is continuing to demand a regrade of these exams and is working as a part of a wide coalition of unions, professional associations, local authorities, schools and individual pupils to pursue a legal challenge against Ofqual and the exam boards.
We are also demanding a change to the way schools are assessed.
Currently as part of his ideological drive to privatise the education system Gove threatens schools that are below a "floor target" of 40 per cent of children gaining five A to C grades.
The fact that Ofqual has now put a defined limit on the number of C and above grades, means that while a particular school can cross that threshold, it can only do so if another school does less well - which cannot be a legitimate object of government policy. Ofqual has turned grades and school success into a zero-sum game.
But the NUT is not at all content with the current situation. There is a problem of underachievement in poorer households - just as there is a problem with poorer health outcomes in poorer households. Much of Gove's rhetoric is designed to steer attention away from this uncomfortable fact and away from this government's appalling record of increasing inequality.
But even the NUT and teachers do not use poverty as an excuse - we want a challenge to poverty and we want improvements to the education system.
It is true that the league table system does lead to a huge pressure to get children a grade C. This isn't wrong in itself but it can mean insufficient attention being given to children heading for a grade E who might get a D with correct support, or children heading for an A who might get an A* with the right challenge.
And many children who want a more practical vocational style of learning find their achievements undervalued.
So there are improvements to be made. But Gove's proposals to replace GCSEs with an EBacc go in completely the wrong direction. His proposal for a grammar-style education EBacc will lead to many children leaving school at 18 with no certification. Alongside a proposal for a TechBacc it is likely to lead to a split of the education system into two tiers of schools.
The positive side is that the GCSE marking furore has led to a willingness of different professional bodies and unions to work together. Who knows - with a fair wind and a bit of parental support this may be one Gove "reform" we can overturn.
- Kevin Courtney is deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers.
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